No. 10 Football Slips Past Morrisville State in NJAC Opener, 20-19

Box Score

Morrisville, NY (9/17/11) – Tenth-ranked Montclair State came up with a stop on a two-point conversion try with 21 seconds remaining as the Red Hawks held off Morrisville State, 20-19 at Drake Field in the NJAC opener for both teams on Saturday.

Senior running back Chris D’Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) rushed for 164 yards while senior wide receiver Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) had seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown as the Red Hawks are off to a 2-0 start for the second straight season and 30th time in program history.

Montclair State opened up the scoring at 3-0 with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter as Jake DelVento (Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) connected from 32 yards out.  The Mustangs (0-2, 0-1 NJAC) responded with a 12-play, 89-yard drive capped off by Lemar Johnson’s six-yard touchdown run with 9:04 to play. The extra point was no good as Morrisville led 6-3.

The Red Hawks answered with their next drive, going 62 yards in 11 plays as D’Andrea  rushed for 37 of those yards while Keegan pulled in 15-yard pass from Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston), who finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge as Montclair regained the lead 10-6 with 2:51 to play before halftime.  MSU held that advantage at the intermission.

Morrisville State countered with a massive 18-play, 68-yard drive to open the third quarter. Johnson connected with Ricky Carlson on a two-yard touchdown pass as the Mustangs moved back in front 13-10 with 5:43 left in the third quarter.

Back again came the Red Hawks , who got good field position as Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) returned the kickoff to the MSU 37. D’Andrea burst for 29 yards on the first play to put the ball at the Morrisville 33. However, Montclair stalled and on 4th-and-9 the Red Hawks gambled and it paid off as Fischer scampered 14 yards for a first down. Two plays later, Fischer found Keegan for a 14-yard touchdown pass as Montclair went up 17-13.

In the fourth quarter, Montclair’s defense came up with a big defensive play as Chad Faulcon (Cranford, NJ /Cranford) intercepted a pass at the Mustangs 30. Montclair moved the ball and had an apparent touchdown as Fischer hit Lewin in the end zone from 19 yards out. But that was wiped out by a penalty and instead the Red Hawks settled for a 29-yard field goal by DelVento with 8:43 remaining.

Morrisville got the ball back and nearly used the entire 8:36 remaining with another long drive as the Mustangs went 70 yards in 16 plays which was also aided by two Montclair State pass interference penalties. The first came on a 3rd-and-8 at the MSU 41 as Johnson’s pass fell incomplete but the flag kept the drive going as the infraction moved the ball to the MSU 26.

Six plays later, Montclair appeared to have the drive stopped again as a fourth-down pass fell incomplete. But again, a pass interference penalty with 58 seconds left gave Morrisville new life and the ball as the Montclair 2. After a loss of three yards on the first play, Johnson found Josh Powell on a five-yard touchdown making the score 20-19.
The Mustangs elected to go for the win, however Johnson was sacked by Joe Koonce (Cliffside Park, NJ / Cliffside Park) on the two-point conversion.  

Montclair State then recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock for the victory.

Fischer was 14-of-22 for 170 yards in the game. Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ / Pascack Hills) and Steve Shan (Bayville, NJ / Central Regional) led the defensive unit with eight tackles a piece.

Montclair State outgained Morrisville State, 342-292.

The Red Hawks return home to Sprague Field for next Saturday’s NJAC contest with Buffalo State at 1:00 pm. Montclair State will honor its 1947 undefeated football team, the school’s first, at halftime.